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Abortion amendment makes its way through the state legislature

As the Supreme Court mulls over an abortion case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, state legislators are taking action to ensure California women have access to the medical procedure. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has more on that effort and what it could mean for the November election.

California lawmakers are not waiting to see what happens to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court. They’ve already begun passing legislation to protect abortion rights in the state, including a proposed constitutional amendment.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said the leaked draft of a court decision that would overturn Roe was "very disheartening."

Atkins has authored several bills regarding reproductive rights, including SCA 10, which would amend the state constitution to include the following: "The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives."


Atkins says the right to abortion must be spelled out in the constitution to guarantee it.

"We have had the luxury of the right to privacy in our state constitution. However that leaked opinion put that in question," she said. "It basically said that the right to privacy is not guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. That causes some issues in California, because our right to abortion is also centered on that right to privacy. So we want enshrined in the California constitution that we have the right to abortion, not just privacy as we have defined it in the past for the last 50 years."

SCA 10 has already been passed by the state senate and is making its way through the assembly. But as a constitutional amendment, it would also have to be approved by voters on the November ballot.

"I do have faith in the voters," said Atkins, adding that polling shows most people are for reproductive rights, regardless of political party.

UC San Diego's Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research has done its own survey on what drives voters to cast their ballots.


"Our polls showed that after people read this article about abortion rights, that they were much more likely to say that would definitely vote in November ... That effect [was] the strongest among Democrats," said Thad Kousser, the center's co-director. "We also saw that fact was particularly strong among young women ... a swing voter."

Kousser said so far, Republicans are the most enthusiastic about voting, being driven by issues like inflation and gas prices, but the abortion issue could be a game changer. "If you get young women to the polls and show that the Democratic Party is with them on this issue, that could be what Democrats need to do to close the deal on taking some of these House seats in California," he said.

We reached out to several abortion rights opponents for comment, but did not receive a reply. The California Family Council, a group opposed to abortion rights, has called SCA 10 “extreme and deadly.” They’re planning a March for Life rally at the state capitol on Wednesday.